Gordon's Sk8er Boi Blog

My adventures as an adult male figure skater in Tucson, Arizona Portland, Oregon Chandler, Arizona.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Spot The Turn

In a fit of optimism, I went to the Saturday afternoon public session. I had to go anyway to pay my Sept.-Oct. skate school tuition. While it was not too bad for the first 15 minutes, it quickly grew almost to the usual zoo-like proportions. While I was paying my tuition I asked if I could speak to the skate school director, but she had already gone home. I will try to catch her on Monday when I go to coffee club.

Since it was so crowded I mostly stuck to the center ice, and worked extensively on my turn and my glide. While working on the turn, I was still fighting my tendency to look down. It occurred to me that if I "spotted" my turn (i.e. focus on some fixed point) that I might be able to counteract this. Sure enough, I tried spotting a point on the wall and was able to reel off a pretty nice turn. This both prevents me from looking down (especially if I choose a relatively high point) and also improves my check because it guarantees I keep looking in the direction I'm traveling. I suppose this idea is a crutch that I won't always need, but in the meantime it was quite helpful. I had a number of really good counterclockwise turns, so I spent a good amount of time working on the CW turn. This one is still giving me difficulty, although I did manage a couple of good ones. It's mostly just getting my mind in the right frame that I'm going to turn the other way -- it seems so unnatural!

Besides the turn I worked a lot on my one-foot glide. My left-foot glide is looking quite good, and I'm able to get a lot of extension on my free leg and even point my toe. My right-foot glide is coming along, it's much better although far inferior to my left foot. Still it's good progress.

I stayed a total of 2.5 hours, which included a Zamboni break. After these long sessions my left knee is hurting, although it stops hurting pretty much immediately after I come off the ice. I'm not worried about it at the moment, I suspect it's just a side effect of my left knee having to do things it's not used to.

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Basic 3 or Adult 2?

Okay, now I'm confused. I did some thinking about the elements that Glenn was looking at on the sheet they gave him last night, and it sounds more to me like they were the "Adult 1" elements from the Basic Adult curriculum, not the Basic 2 elements from the Basic 8s. This is very confusing as I was under the impression at the end of the last semester that they were teaching the adult class from the Basic 8s, the same as the kids. To be honest I would much, much rather being doing Basic 1-8 than Adult 1-4 since the Basic 8s seem to be much more, well, challenging. There are no 1-foot spins and no jumps in the Adult curriculum. Grrr! I am going in to pay for the next semester on Saturday; I will try to talk with the skate school director then; or maybe tomorrow if I go to coffee club.

On to Basic 3!

At the beginning of my lesson last night, Glenn presented me with a completion certificate for Basic 2; despite his disinterest in the mechanics of the skate school I figured the skate school admins would take care of that. After that formality we went on to go through the various elements. He was pleased with my progress on the backward swizzle and my improved form (feet touching). From there we went on to look at stroking and gliding, and Glenn emphasized that I need to get more extension. I commented on the lack of power in my pushoff, and he said it's due to incomplete follow-through. So we worked on my glide, to extend the free leg fully (and point the toe!) before returning it to the neutral position (feet together) and then stroking on the other foot similarly. After that we spent a fair amount of time working on the two-foot turn, which we hadn't looked at in several weeks. After observing my attempts at it Glenn pointed out that I need to be more committed to my windup, and that I don't need to/shouldn't separate the windup from the release -- actually, they should overlap slightly. In other words, I can let my feet start to turn slightly before I complete the windup -- before my left shoulder (in this case) is all the way back. I tried it this way a couple of times with much better results. I did have an instance where I didn't complete the turn, and he said this was because I wasn't actually completing my windup -- I was starting the turn but not following-through (there it is again!) on the windup.

After my lesson I skated 'til a little after 9 pm. The rink was not crowded at all (yea!) so I spent a lot of time on the turn and it is much improved. I also worked fairly hard on the clockwise turn, mostly standing still and not actually moving forward, and was able to have some modest success. After the Z-break at 8ish, I was really "in the groove" and the ice was excellent. I worked more on my backward swizzles, getting good extension on my glides, and on my right foot glide (which still needs work!). I also did some of the forward 1/2 swizzle pumps on a circle -- I'm getting so that I'm actually moving rather fast at these. I also did a few where I would circle a couple of times, then straighten out and do a turn; it worked reasonably well. My turn is much improved, but I still have to work on being sure to bend my knees and to not lean forward ("straight you back!").

I left the ice in a really good, happy mood, feeling like I am making solid progress and starting to feel more like a "real" skater. I'm really excited about what's to come in the next few months.


Tuesday, August 26, 2003

"Straight you back!"

Today I had a work trip up to Phoenix, and I managed to arrange to take my lunch hour (well, hour and a half) at Polar Ice in Chandler, in time to make the 1:30 public session. Since I'd never skated there I was looking forward to new ice.

It was a really nice experience. Since it was the middle of the day, I was sharing a rink with only 3 other people -- two hockey skaters and a young Asian male figure skater. I spent more time working on my backward swizzles again -- still getting that boots-touching thing to happen. I can do it but I have to have warmed up a bit, and gotten over my fear. It's coming. I also spent some time on the turn but had miserable success, so I left it and worked on my glides and stroking. I can finally say that my right foot glide is pretty much there. It's still not as solid as the left foot, but it was reliably there, both the flat and the outside edge, even. Finally!

The ice at Polar was pretty nice -- it was similar to the back rink (Rink 2) at Gateway -- hard and cold. It was quite cold, actually -- enough to make me a little uncomfortable. Since I had my usual skating gear on I can say that it's definitely colder than Gateway. While the facility is pretty new and laid out very nicely for the most part, it's rather annoying in that there's very little space around the rink itself. At Gateway there are a full set of bleachers facing the entire south side of Rink 1, and bleachers at the west end of Rink 2. As far as I can see Polar has no bleachers on either rink and it's a bit claustrophobic there. I also had a moment to compare the public session times at Polar and Gateway -- it appears that Polar still has morning times during school, however, they have no evening times at all! Eeep! So if I lived there I'd be hard put to get much skating in. On the plus side, I saw that they have lots of early morning freestyle times, starting at 5:30 a.m. or some such.

For the last 20 minutes or so of the session the hockey skaters had left and it was just myself and the young figure skater. After watching me a bit working on backward swizzles or some such, he came up to me to give me some advice. His English is a bit broken (I think he's Vietnamese, or perhaps Filipino) but his skating is excellent. He reminded me, "straight you back!" -- and he gave me an example both of what I was doing, and of skating with good posture. He also said "chin up!" and "don't look at ice!" It was a very helpful and timely reminder. I'm really glad he spoke up because I need to be reminded of such things. I thanked him and he gave me some other advice and asked me some questions -- could I do crossovers? No? Slalom? No? Finally he went back to practicing spins and jumps, leaving me with a valuable reminder and a good example.

Monday, August 25, 2003

No Morning Ice

Grr. No sooner do I post that last, seemingly, then Gateway comes out with their new public session schedule. Now that school is back in session, they've cancelled all the morning public sessions M-F. There is no weekday morning ice available in Tucson at all, public sessions nor freestyle. Grrr.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Rink 2

Yesterday I attended a special skating session at Gateway, it was a fundraiser for a family whose daughter is in skate school. They had lost their home and business -- pretty much everything -- in a fire. The special attraction for me (other than altruism) was that this fundraiser was an hour session on Rink 2. Rink 2 is the back rink at Gateway; it's used for hockey and for freestyle sessions, never for public sessions or skate school. Therefore I'd never skated on that ice. I was curious what it would be like.

The session was very uncrowded at the beginning (5 -8 people!) but picked up a bit for the last half. The ice was... different. It's hard to say exactly how. They had just Zamboni'd it before the session, and it was really nice. I think it's a little colder/harder. I spent the hour working on my right foot glide and my turn, but I spent the bulk of it working on my backward swizzles some more since it was not crowded. I must have spent a good half-hour just doing backward swizzles across the width of the rink at the far end. It was a good workout, and by the end I was able to (usually) bring my boots together (touching!) between swizzles. Having gotten to that point I did try briefly lifting one foot (backward one foot glide) but I probably managed no more than a second. Well, Rome wasn't built in a day. It was a productive session. I'd be better off doing that every day, probably, than longer sessions 3 times a week. If Gateway ever had morning sessions (currently first session is 9:30 a.m.) I'd probably go for an hour.

Friday, August 22, 2003


I went to coffee club today, the first time I'd been in 3 weeks. I really like this session, even though it's short and in the middle of the day (tough to arrange) it's not crowded and the skaters are good so you can get stuff done. After warming up I spent most of my time just working on same-old same-old stuff, in particular the turn, right-foot glide and T-stop. CC includes a free lesson, but it didn't start until 12:50 and I had to leave at 1 so it was quite abbreviated for me. The instructor was Cecilia, an older woman I'd not met before. It was just myself and another skater (Rosemary) who's much better than I am.

We spent our brief time working on some fundamentals -- forward and backward swizzles, backward 1/2 swizzle pumps and right foot glide. On the backward swizzles she emphasized to me (just as Glenn had) that I need to bring my feet together. On the forward ones she thought I needed to bend my knees more (undoubtedly true), especially toward the end of the stroke. On the back 1/2 swizzle pumps she had a lot of pointers for me, in particular my weight is not over the inside foot as it's supposed to be (duh!) and I need to keep back arm up, front arm down a bit, and get more knee-bend. On the glide she emphasized that I need to get my weight in the right position to begin with. Once more I noticed that my push-off really leaves a lot to be desired. I'm not getting any power. I think my knees need to be bent more initially and I need more follow-through.

Anyway, it was good and productive and I wished I could stay longer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Pushing On...

I had my 16th lesson tonight. I had a 6 p.m. meeting so I didn't get to the rink as early as I would have liked, to warm up and get comfortable. I had about a 4 minute warmup, and my right boot felt funny.

Tonight we worked on a wide variety of things... we looked at the my one-foot glide and my LFO edge; Glenn worked with me to get more lean, more edge on it. Next we worked briefly reviewing stroking. We also spent a goodly amount of time looking at my backward swizzles, and Glenn also introduced the backward 1/2 swizzle pumps on a circle that Lisa had shown me Saturday. After a little bit of time on that Glenn had me go into a backward glide and then work on picking up one foot, i.e. a backward one-foot glide. I could only pick my foot up for the briefest of times, but he said it was a start. We didn't look at the turn or crossover stuff today. The other new thing Glenn introduced me to was a T-stop. He said since my left foot glide is pretty solid it was time to start working on it, so we worked on it a bit.

Toward the end of the lesson I asked him about testing next week, since it's the end of the semester. Not surprisingly he said he wasn't really interested/concerned with it, and said "I'm testing you every week!" which is pretty much true. He said we could test if I wanted to and I didn't really say anything. He said he would be teaching me next semester as far as he knew (he was pretty certain). I'm grateful for that.

I noticed a little bit of sliding on my right boot, and I asked Glenn if I needed to get my blades sharpened. He had a look at my right blade and said maybe in a couple of weeks it would be time. I'm skating about 5-6 hours a week, and I've had these boots/blades for about 9 weeks, so that's probably 50-60 hours of skating on them. I'm not sure how that compares with other folks.

After my lesson I stayed 'til the end of the session (9:30!), in part because almost everyone left at 9 and I couldn't resist the chance to skate with only one other person on the ice. On the other hand I was pretty beat by then, and they never resurfaced the ice tonight so it was pretty disgusting by then. During the session I worked a fair amount on my turn, a little on the crossover (step-over at this point), and I experimented with the T-stop. I actually had a good T-stop once. The key is (as Glenn warned me) to keep it on the outside edge -- if you catch the inside edge you're history. I can do it about 2/3 of the time, but I usually wasn't holding it to a complete stop. I didn't think I would be able to get the T position correctly but it was okay, actually. Finally, during the last part of the session when I had a lot of time to myself, I worked on my backward swizzles since normally it's too crowded to do much with them. They are not nearly as good as the forward ones, but they are coming. The biggest challenge is to bring my feet together in between as I do for the forward ones. I am tending to lean forward a little when I'm going backward, which makes my balance a little tenuous. I'm not getting the power that I do on the forward ones, either.

The disappointment for the evening was that I couldn't get my right foot glide on the flat tonight. I don't know if it was tiredness or my right boot feeling a little funky (I was too lazy to relace) but I just couldn't get it. Still I was pleased with the lesson and pleased with my progress. Glenn mentioned to me that after my lesson last week, a couple of women had stopped him and mentioned that I had come a long way. That made me really happy. It's a little thing but it's nice.


Monday, August 18, 2003

Right Foot Glide!

I went to the public session tonight. I had a sinus headache that came on just before the start of the session and stayed with me all night; also I was quite tired. Nevertheless I had a pretty productive session, and skated a full two hours.

It was not crowded at all so I spent some time working on backward swizzles as well as the back 1/2 swizzle pumps on a circle. These are still pretty rough. I also worked on my turn and made some improvements. One key seems to be to overcompensate slightly to ensure that I don't lean forward. That helped a lot. I also worked a little on the grapevine and doing the step over (introductory crossover) while moving forward. I did several of them and they are stiff but okay.

I spent the lion's share of time working on my right-foot glide. Finally about 9 p.m. or so I started getting some good glides on my right-foot -- straight and with my placement pretty much correct. They are still not nearly as solid as my left foot, and in particular I can't seem to get on the outside edge yet... but it's solid progress. I'm really pleased, and glad I'll have this to show at my lesson Wednesday.

It's occurred to me that this time in my "skating life" is pretty special -- I'm learning a lot of fundamentals, and I think I'm learning them at a good pace; not as fast as some, certainly, but not so slowly either. Before all that much time has really passed (perhaps a year or two), while there will still be plenty to learn (I'm confident of that) I suspect the rate at which I make progress will not be as rapid, and I'll have to fight more for every bit of progress. At least, that's my impression. It makes me want to cherish this time of learning and discovery. I'm very grateful to be able to do this, and very blessed.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Makeup Lesson

This morning I had a makeup lesson, since I missed my 7/2 lesson due to being in Dallas. This was my 15th lesson, and the first time I'd had a lesson on Saturday morning.

The Saturday instructor is Lisa. She seemed surprised to see me (they don't tell the instructors in advance, you just show up and the office gives you a slip to give the instructor), especially since apparently the other person in the class had had a bad fall and stopped coming. Anyway, after a brief introduction we got started and I showed her where I'm at. She looked at my turns and my LF edges and asked me to skate a LFO around a (large) circle, which I did. Then we looked at my backward and forward swizzles a bit, and she had me try backward 1/2 swizzle pumps on a circle. I tried these out a bit and she gave me some pointers. She told me these are preparation for back crossovers, which makes sense. She also looked at where I'm at with my forward crossover and encouraged me to continue practicing that. Finally, she asked me if there was anything in particular I'd like to learn and I asked about the backward snowplow, so we looked at that and I tried a few. It's not too bad. I'd need to be skating backwards a bit faster to really get good practice on that.

At the end of the lesson she encouraged me to continue working on my LF edges, the backward 1/2 swizzle pumps on a circle, and the backward snowplow stop. I'm kind of amused because I've now done about half the Basic 3 curriculum, and half the Basic 4. It's kind of weird.

After the lesson I had an hour to kill before public session so I had some lunch at Little Anthony's at the rink, and did some reading. Finally the session started, and it filled up fast and became quite a zoo. I did get a fair amount of work in on most everything. I worked on my backward swizzle and the backward snowplow stop, did the back 1/2 swizzle pumps on a circle (and forward, too), worked on stroking, my LF edges, the 2-foot turn and even some time on the forward crossovers (although I didn't do any of them moving forward, just in place). I also spent a fair amount of time working on my right foot glide, with no apparent success. About the only thing I didn't really try was my clockwise 2-foot turn.

One of the nice events was bumping into a woman, Lisa, that I'd met elsewhere. I knew she was a skater but I'd never seen her at the rink -- at least I didn't realize I had. It turns out that I had, I just hadn't recognized her because when I'd seen her before she was blonde (-er) and wasn't wearing glasses. Anyway, we had a nice chat about skating. I stayed 'til about 3 and then had to get home -- I was pretty beat anyway.


Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Gordon Meets Crossovers!?

I got to the rink earlier than usual for my lesson tonight. I wanted a little extra time to warm up, to see if my LF edges were still present or if they had deserted me. Thanks be to God, they were still there! I had a good warmup skate before my lesson.

We started my lesson with Glenn saying he'd seen me practicing my glide out of the corner of his eye, and he wanted me to show it to him, so I did. He spent some time congratulating me, saying that I had reached an important milestone. He's not a big one for compliments so this meant a lot, I was very pleased. We worked a bit on the right foot (which still is not there) and also getting more extension from my free leg.

From there we went to the 2-foot turn, which we had not looked at last week but which I had (of course) practiced. He had me show him where I was at with it, and he made several corrections. First and foremost he wanted me to be more assertive with my windup -- lead with the shoulders, not the arms/hands. The shoulders should move and the arms follow, not vice-versa. He also told me to bend my knees slightly to the right (for a CCW turn) to avoid turning on my skates prematurely. Finally, he said that I was making too much of it. You'll notice in my last entry I thought I needed to be more explosive. Well, not so. I do need to be decisive (no hesitation), but not explosive. More finesse, less push. A graceful thing, not a powerful thing.

We then looked briefly at the 1/2 swizzle pumps on a circle, and he made me do them CCW and CW and thinks they are looking good. He's threatening ( :-)) me with backward ones next.

He then proceeded to introduce me to forward crossovers. He had me stand in front of him, bring my right hand in front and my left hand back, and then bend my knees, and pick up my right foot and cross it over my left foot while moving my weight to my left foot and then over to my right foot; then move my left foot back around. We did this several times both ways, first standing still and then moving very slowly forward. It went okay. I was rather amused since I wrote just last week that I figured Glenn would move me to this stuff well before October/November. Well, it's only August. Mind you I'm hardly doing real crossovers at this point, but clearly it's coming.

For my practice this week he suggested I continue to work through the things we had done, and he wanted me to try to have more power. He emphasized that doesn't mean doing things quicker -- it means more push, more power. In my stroking, not more strokes, but more powerful strokes.

After my lesson I worked through most of the stuff we'd done, although I left the crossovers alone for tonight (I'll try them Saturday or Monday). I spent some time on my backward swizzles, on my stroking, and briefly experimented with a backward snowplow stop. Since my backward glides aren't particularly fast there's not much to stop, but I did manage one, I think. I also spent a lot of time enjoying my LF edges and just kind of noodling around with that -- self-indulgent, I know, but I wanted to enjoy the feeling of competence and wonder. At one point I worked on getting more extension on my free leg and got what felt like quite a lot, actually. Without someone else looking (I certainly can't!) it's hard to know. The funny thing was, I realized to get the extension it didn't really make any difference in my balance, I just had to make the muscle-effort. That is, I needed to balance for my free leg behind me instead of next to my skating leg; but once it's out behind it didn't seem to make much difference in my balance how far behind it was, I just needed to make the effort. Interesting.

After the Z-break they played some good music, so I spent some time working on skating more powerfully and faster. It was good, but tiring.

At the end of the evening I spent more time working on trying to get an outside edge (or flat) on my right foot. I succeeded briefly a couple of times, but it's not there yet. I'm not sure why it's not since the left is there, but that is the way it goes sometimes I guess.

I got on the ice at 6:40 and was still skating at 9, planning to leave after just a couple more tries at the right foot. I was tired. As can easily happen when I'm tired, I had a fall. This was another one of those falls that starts out very badly (flailing and thinking I'm going to fall over backwards flat on my back) as I lost my balance and my arms were up. Somehow, I'm not sure how, I managed to translate it into a forward fall/slide/spin or something that wound up not hurting at all. I'm really glad I recovered it but I will try to be more careful about knowing my limits in the future.

All in all it was a terrific evening and I am wiped out, especially after skating two nights in a row. As I was leaving I got to meet young Hannah's father. Hannah is one of the young skaters (she's 10, I think she's in Freestyle 1-2). She cracks me up, she's pretty funny. Tonight she was working on her shoot-the-duck and she was cheating it a little, so I teased her about it. Anyway, I told her dad that she's a gem and she's working very hard. He thanked me for the compliment. It's nice to see the parents out there supporting their kids.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003


I attended the public session tonight. When I got there I saw that my friend Amber Lee's friend Debbie was there, so I went to say Hi. I knew she skated but I'd not seen her there. Apparently she had not skated in a long time. Anyway we said hi and wound up talking a fair amount during the session. I got on the ice at 7:30 and stayed 'til just after 9.

I spent the session working over all my usual stuff. When it started it was very uncrowded (6 people or so) and it never got very crowded at all. I'd never (or almost never) gone on a Tuesday night, so this was good since there will be a lot of Tuesday nights in my future once school starts and my Monday evening choir rehearsals kick in (8/25).

Since it wasn't crowded I worked a bit more on my backward swizzles (though not as much as I probably should have). They are about where I left them -- solid, but I can't bring myself to put my feet together when I'm gliding in-between as Glenn wants me to. I need to spend more time on that.

I spent a good amount of time on my 2-foot turn, with some success. Since Glenn's had me putting my feet together so much, I put my feet together for that (before they were 6-8 inches apart) and it helps. I still need to concentrate on not leaning forward, and being more decisive/explosive -- not hesitating. I did turn out some good ones. I also tried a few clockwise ones, with no success. I decided I need to try a few clockwise ones on dry land, much as I'd practiced the CCW ones.

I worked on my stroking, of course, and that is coming along well. I spent a good amount of time working on my 1-foot glide. The big excitement for the evening was that just before it was time to go home, something clicked. It's not that I intellectually figured something out, it's just that somehow I found myself gliding confidently on my left foot. More than that, I found myself on an outside edge. Even more than that I was able to turn from the LFO to the LFI and back again!

Honestly, I'm not sure how I did that. Once I did it I wanted to stay all night just doing it again, practicing. I tried some on my right foot and while I couldn't do the RFO/RFI thing I was much more solid there as well. Anyway, I practiced for probably 5 or 8 minutes and then I had to go. I was reminded of what Glenn had said, that you get these things and then often you work on them hard to try to lock them in, but the next practice you've lost them. Still, he said, in two or three more sessions you will get it solidly and then it's more or less yours.

I am so psyched, I could just scream!

Monday, August 11, 2003

The Most Important Move

I've been reading Figure Skating: Championship Techniques by John Misha Petkevich. It's a terrific book -- it has a lot of pictures and it's very detailed. Petkevich was a US Champion. He really gives a lot of good advice. I especially love this gem from page 29, where he's telling you in detail how to get started your first time on the ice:

"The next move is perhaps the most important you will ever make on the ice. Let go of the barrier."

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Public Session Progress

I was sick Friday (wound up sleeping until 5 p.m.!) so I didn't attend Coffee Club as I'd hoped. To make up for it I attended the afternoon public session today. There were a fair number of people there (mostly kids) but it was still skateable.

I worked mostly on my 1-foot glide, my turn, and a little bit on the grapevine Glenn showed me on Wednesday. My glide is coming along very well! On my left foot I can pretty much glide for as long as my speed and/or strength holds out. On my right foot... well, that side needs more work. I did work it some, but I was so pleased with my left foot progress I mostly worked on that. My turn is coming along, I spent 15 or 20 minutes working on it and had some really good ones, including a couple where I actually had a little speed coming out of the turn. I need to work next on going into them with more speed and seeing how that goes. My biggest single problem with them seems to be a bit of hesitancy at times. One needs to not hesitate at all for these! "Just do it." As for the grapevine -- well, I wouldn't say that I am doing one. What I am managing to do is basically a swizzle where I bring my feet together between strokes with one foot almost in front of the other -- basically touching heel to toe but not quite in front. Since it's the first time I've tried 'em I think that's pretty good. I'll have to keep working on it of course.

All in all I was there for about 2 hours (1 hr 45 minutes of skating time counting the Z-break).

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Lucky Thirteen!

[GRR! I posted this once and Blogger ate it with a Tomcat error, so I had to rewrite it. GRR!]

I had my 13th lesson last night. All in all it was a good lesson, not earth-shattering or anything. We reviewed my progress on the elements I've learned so far (except the turn, for some reason we didn't get to that). Glenn thinks I'm making good progress on the glide and that I'm almost there -- I think so too. We worked on the glide a bit and he mentioned (again, I think) that it's really all about my body and where it is, not about the boot and the blade. In particular, he said I need to think of an inside edge even when I'm moving my body to produce an outside edge -- otherwise my blade will tend to turn outward, which will throw me off. I'll have to keep this in mind. Glenn also showed me the grapevine, which is sort of like a swizzle but you cross your feet in front of each other when they come together. He had me try this at the boards and then again with him skating in front of me and supporting me. It's really hard! It's hard to bend my knees enough to make this happen. I asked him if this was preparation for learning crossovers, and he confirmed that I needed to be able to do this to do crossovers (which makes a lot of sense). It's really kind of neat how the skills prepare for each other. The turn and the 1/2 swizzle pumps prepare for the two-foot spin, which prepares for the one foot spins as well as jumps and lots of other stuff. And of course the glide is necessary for everything.

After my lesson I stayed another 1.5 hours or so (till after 9, so more than 2+ hours of skating with my warmup and lesson). I worked on the same elements and spent another half hour or so on the turn. It's definitely coming, it is both more fluid and more consistent. It's still not 100% though. I need to be more committed to it, one can't be half-hearted about it or it doesn't work. I thought of the Yoda line, "Do! or do not. There is no try!" The turn is like that :-). I still need to work on the clockwise ones though, I could stand a good 30 or 40 minutes just on that since I've done only a few. I also need to work more on my right foot glides, and on backward swizzles and glides. Glenn wants me to work on putting my feet really together (touching!) when I'm gliding backward. I can now do that forward, but not backward. Of course, 3 or 4 weeks ago I couldn't do it forward, so there's definitely progress.

I had a chance to talk to Jennifer (one of the other coaches, who taught me several lessons in June) to ask her about the difference between the Basic 1 "snowplow stop" and the Basic 2 "moving snowplow stop". She explained that the Basic 1 version is mostly for the kids, to get them used to the motion ("making snow"). Really, in looking at the Basic Eights I am doing really well. Depending on the criteria, I have all the Basic 2 stuff already and the first two elements of Basic 3 (fwd. stroking and fwd. 1/2 swizzle pumps). I say "depending on the criteria" because I don't know if what I can already do for the 1-foot glide and backward 2-foot glide meets the standard or not. Still, certainly by the end of August I should meet all of Basic 2 and half of Basic 3 (fwd. stroking, fwd. 1/2 swizzle pumps and a moving 2-foot turn). And of course the forward crossovers are a Basic 4 element, which I would expect to be working on in November/December; but the way Glenn is moving I suspect he will try to have me through them by October. He doesn't actually seem all that concerned with the class structure, he's more interested in laying good foundations. I really like that approach.


Monday, August 04, 2003


Well, it's not a "Eureka" moment, but I made some solid progress tonight at the public session. After warming up a bit I spent some time working on stroking as usual. After 30 or 40 minutes I started working on my one-foot glide (mostly the left foot). I made some good progress. Then I took 20 or 30 minutes to work on my two-foot turn. I went out in the center and made little boxes as I would glide and turn, glide and turn. I did a slew of 'em and they are improving. I only tried a couple clockwise though, and the CW ones were very lacking. My counterclockwise ones are definitely coming along, though -- a couple of times I could tell that I hit the true "sweet spot" on my blades. I did notice at one point that I was leaning forward when turning, and when I fixed that it definitely seemed to help a bit.

After working on the turns I did some stroking and decided to spend my last 10 minutes or so working on the glides some more... and came up with some really good, solid ones. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing differently, though, more's the pity. But I had several quite long ones on my left foot, and even a couple of decent ones on my right foot. All in all I was quite pleased with my progress.

I noticed a young skater who looked to be about at my level, and so I talked a bit with her -- she's named Lindsey, she was there with her friend Khristina. Lindsey is in Basic 2 also (the kids' class, of course, not adult!) but she's a little further along than I am. Her turns look much better than mine -- she said she'd spent a lot of time on them. She's also been working up a two-foot spin, which is Basic 3 or 4. It's kind of interesting to relate to kids as peers -- it's refreshing, actually. I suppose most parents never get to relate to kids in that way, but I really enjoy seeing kids like Lindsey and Khristina. It gives one hope for the future!

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Stroking Soundtrack

From the "mommy, mommy, make it STOP" department (or should that be "my embarrassing skating secrets"?): one of the songs the rink plays at public sessions (alongside such faves as Guns n' Roses "Sweet Child of Mine" and somebody's (Dixie Chicks?) cover of ABBA's "Dancing Queen") is Britney Spears's "Lucky". Unfortunately, now when I'm working on my stroking (or, as often happens, when I'm dreaming about working on my stroking), the soundtrack that my mind conjures up is this song. *sigh*

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Fundraiser Night

Tonight Gateway had a fundraiser for the Mt. Lemmon Fire District. As you may know, Mt. Lemmon outside Tucson was devasted last month by the Aspen fire that burned 80,000+ acres and hundreds of homes on Mt. Lemmon, a resort area. So the fundraiser was free skating, pizza and soda for a $5 donation to the cause.

I went to the fundraiser with some friends from a singles group I'm in. We all had a nice time -- one of them had only skated once in her life, as a child, and the other had skated regularly as a child but not in many years. They both had a good time, and I did too, in spite of the fact that the place was an absolute zoo. Good marketing! Maybe some of those folks will become regular skaters. I hope so, so long as they aren't there when I'm skating :-). I wasn't able to accomplish a lot but I had a nice time anyway.

I had originally planned to go to a makeup lesson on Saturday but I'm thinking I will put it off until next week. I'm a bit tired.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Coffee Club

I managed to get out of work for a long lunch today to attend the Coffee Club at Gateway. Coffee Club is Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:45 to 1:15, and costs $8; it includes a half-hour lesson and free skating at the afternoon public session. I didn't get there until right at 11:45, but fortunately I suppose they decided to resurface the ice right then because it was in bad shape. So I had plenty of time to get my skates on and meet some folks. The only person there that I knew was Nikki who I met back in May -- she remembered me and waved Hi, which was very nice. Altogether there were probably 15 people or so. The best part is that it's reserved for adults, so no hockey boys and no little kids to trip over. It appeared that everyone there was a figure skater, I don't think I saw a single pair of hockey skates.

After the Z-break I warmed up a bit and then asked Nikki about the lesson -- she took me down and introduced me to the instructor, Linda, who'd already started. I had seen her but thought she was giving a private lesson. Anyway, Linda, the instructor, sized me up and announced (not surprisingly) that the other skater and I were in two different worlds (she was much more advanced than I). She took me aside and I told her briefly where I was at and what I've been working on. She asked me to show her my one-foot glide and stroking. After a demonstration (not a good one) she suggested I come to the glide from a two-foot glide with my knees together -- something Glenn had had me doing -- and not from a stroke. This resulted in probably one of the best and longest glides I've done. She also worked with me on my two-foot turn and emphasized arm position and keeping my "box" straight. Her parting advice for me was that I really need to work on bending my knees more and getting that position improved. All in all she told me a lot of the same things Glenn has been telling me, but in a different way.

After the lesson I had about a half an hour to work on what she'd told me. I tried to work as much as I could. The two big accomplishments for today were that I tried a couple of clockwise turns (finally!). They weren't good, but it's a start. Also, I'm rather proud that I taught myself the one element for Basic 2 that I'd not been exposed to yet, namely the "Fwd alternating 1/2 swizzle pumps, in a straight line (slalom-like pattern)". After all the time that Glenn has had me working on the forward 1/2 swizzle pumps on a circle, this was really pretty easy. I'm really pleased that I'm only halfway through the semester and I've at least touched on everything. This means I have a month to perfect the two elements I'm most concerned with, the one-foot glide and the backward two-foot glide.

Coffee Club was a good experience -- not crowded, good ice, nice people. The people were friendly. They were about half retirees and the rest mostly a bit older than me. There was one woman who seemed quite good that I'd not met before -- I was told her name is Gail. Also a man who looks about my age who is really quite good -- I saw him do a split jump! And the prize for "most inspirational" goes to a man I was talking to at the end of the session, who owns a very nice sit spin. In talking to him, I found he is about 50 (!) and started skating when he was 43! So there really IS hope for me. He's got an axel, too.

I'm hoping I can attend CC at least on Fridays, but I imagine with my work schedule it may be problematic. Still, I think I definitely got more accomplished in an hour and 15 minutes than I would have at a Saturday afternoon or Friday night (horrors!) public session.

More entries to come, as I am going skating tonight and having a makeup lesson tomorrow also.